Entrepreneurs survey finds boundless confidence in local economy, but concern nationally

March 1, 2019

This article originally appeared in Business Williamson.

Nashville entrepreneurs are largely bullish on the local economy. But the national economy – not so much.

A recent survey of the members of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) Nashville chapter showed that Nashville entrepreneurs expect to hire more employees, generate more revenue and realize higher profit margins in 2019 than they did in 2018.

And 2018 was a pretty good year.

Overall, half of the respondents believe that the economic environment in Middle Tennessee will be better this year than it was last year. Slightly fewer – 47 percent – think it will stay the same as it was in 2018 and only three percent think it will get worse.

But they are not so optimistic about the national economy, where only one-quarter think it will be better this year than last, 42 percent say it will stay about the same and one-third think it will get worse.

The Entrepreneurs’ Organization is reserved for owners of businesses worldwide that generate at least $1 million per year. In EO Nashville, the average revenue of a member company is $12 million and the average number of employees is 60. Altogether, the chapter’s 226 member companies generate a total of $2.3 billion in sales annually and employ 11,500 people. EO Nashville is the largest EO chapter in America and the third-largest in the world – so what its members have to say carries some weight and may be indicative of a broader trend across the region and the nation.

“If I were a betting man, I’d put my money on what our members have to say about the local and national business climate,” said EO Nashville President Eric Jackson, who is also CEO of Keystone Business Solutions. “Thanks to our diversified economy and the large number of highly educated and skilled people moving here everyday, Nashville is well-positioned to experience a strong economy this year. However, our members are not as optimistic about the national economy. We’ll have to wait and see.”

An astounding 90 percent of EO Nashville members responding to the survey said it is “definitely” or “probably” a good time to start a business in Middle Tennessee.

Here are some of the reasons they gave for their optimism:

  • “Policy decisions such as unprecedented reductions in regulations have improved the economic climate to a degree not seen since the financial crisis. Tennessee’s right-to-work status, good education systems, balanced state budget fiscal policies, low (to no) state income tax create a robust environment.”
  • “Tons of momentum and great things happening in Nashville. Tons of energy, excitement and access to talent and capital. Great time to be in Nashville.”
  • “It’s the golden age for Tennessee. Tax and demographic migration will be tailwinds for years. More population equals more economy.”
  • “The entrepreneurial environment in Middle Tennessee is second to none. Starting a business even in the worst of times is always better in Middle Tennessee than anywhere else in the U.S.”
  • “Amazon & Alliance Bernstein. What else can you say?”

The 2019 EO Nashville Entrepreneur Indicator Survey has a 6% margin of error at 90% confidence level.